International News Briefs

Hollywood movie Zero Dark Thirty prompts Senate inquiry

Three United States senators are demanding the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reveal what information they provided director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal in making the new movie Zero Dark Thirty, which portrays the hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. The movie implies that torture - or “coercive interrogation,” as it is often called - was a primary factor in locating Bin Laden’s whereabouts in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, where he was eventually killed by U.S. Navy Seals in 2011. Senators Dianne Feinstein (chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee), John McCain and Carl Levin have requested “all information and documents provided to the filmmakers by CIA officials,” the Los Angeles Times reported. The Senators argue that torture did not, in fact, play a large role in locating Bin Laden and that the CIA likely misled the makers of Zero Dark Thirty.

Authors shed light on South African cycling culture

Two authors, animator Nic Grobler and photographer Stan Engelbrecht, are attempting to shed some light on a unique, makeshift cycling culture in South Africa with a book they plan to call Bicycle Portraits, according to the Los Angeles Times. The pair cycled nearly 4,000 miles around the country and conducted 500 interviews with various South African cyclists. What they discovered was not entirely unsurprising - South Africa’s cycling culture is endowed with its fair share of eccentricity, fearlessness and it harbours some of the same apartheid scars that plague much of the country. According to the authors, a stigma exists around bicycles originating from companies giving them out to the poor during the apartheid era. But they hope to shatter this misconception while raising money to publish the book. “We both believe that bicycles could really empower people in South Africa, where so many people rely on poor public transport infrastructure,” Engelbrecht told the Times.

First female Afghan rapper comes out of the woodwork

According to a report by the Mail and Guardian, a new phenomenon has emerged out of Afghanistan - the nation’s first female rapper. Soosan Feroz, 23, has emerged as a cultural phenomenon, challenging both the conservative religious beliefs that permeate so much of Afghan society as well as United States foreign policy and the atrocities of war. Her first recorded piece of music, the song Our Neighbours, has garnered over 100,000 hits on YouTube. However, because Feroz challenges many of the cultural stereotypes about the inferiority of women, she has faced death threats. “I’m not deterred,” she told the Guardian. “I want to be the voice of women in my country.”

Father of Indian rape victim speaks out

The father of an Indian woman whose recent gang rape and torture sparked street protests throughout the country, is speaking out and calling for the release and dissemination of his daughter’s name. His daughter, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, died on Dec. 28 in a Singapore hospital two weeks after she was gang raped on a bus in New Delhi. According the BBC World News as of Dec. 28, 635 rape cases had been reported in Delhi in 2012, up from 572 in 2011. “I am proud of her. Revealing her name will give courage to other women who have survived these attacks. They will find strength from my daughter,” the father told British newspaper Sunday People.

Published in Volume 67, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 10, 2013)

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